“It ain’t over till it’s over”
Go For Gold U23 top gun, Daniel Ven Cariño, the youngest brother of PNSI El Joshua Cariño, dominated the 170-km Queen Stage of LBC Ronda Pilipinas 2020 in Baguio City with a clocking of 4 hours, 30 minutes and 4 seconds, prevailing over his closest rival and teammate Ismael Grospe in U23 Category.
Early in the race, in stage 4, Cariño laid hold of the best young rider from 7-Eleven Aidan James Mendoza, before Grospe seized and kept it for the three succeeding grueling stages of LBC Ronda Pilipinas 10th edition.
At the outset, the 21-year-old Pangasinense rider Daniel Ven Cariño from Go For Gold was part of the eight-man breakaway who circumvented the peloton 11 kilometers after they were flagged off.
In the last twenty kilometers en route to Baguio City, Go For Gold Daniel Ven Cariño was included in the final ten-man formation alongside nine other riders.
The Philippine Navy Standard Insurance road warriors Ronald Oranza, who served as the head-man in place of the team captain Morales, Ronald Lomotos, George Oconer, John Mark Camingao, Junrey Navara, El Joshua Cariño, and Go For Gold youngsters Ismael Grospe, Daniel Ven Cariño and Jonel Carcueva and Bicycology Shop Army rider Marvin Tapic comprised the final and solid lead pack.
Today, LBC Ronda Pilipinas staged its 170 km- most challenging stage as scheduled in the City of Pines. Remarkably, the staging in Baguio City is the first time since the 2016 LBC Ronda Pilipinas stage race, which Rustom Lim won.
Initially, in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, eight riders constituted the break pulled out the peloton, including Go For Gold lads Daniel Ven Cariño, Ismael Grospe, and Ronnilan Quita, PNSI Top guns Ronald Oranza, Jan Paul Morales, George Oconer, BSA Cris Joven and CCT rider Cesar Lapaza Jr.
At that time, the race leaders were ahead by about 23 seconds from the three determined chasers while the main bunch was behind by about 54 seconds.
From Palayan City, the race entourage traversed the Municipalities of Bongabon, Rizal, Llanera, the City of San Jose, and the Municipality of Lupao in Nueva Ecija then continued to the Municipality of Umingan, San Quintin, Sta. Maria, Asingan, Binalonan, Sison in Pangasinan then to Rosario, La Union, before launching the 37-km uphill battle in the Cordillera region.
At 10:23 am, the relentless peloton completely counterattacked the break in Lupao, Nueva Ecija—the hometown of Go For Gold youngster Ismael Grospe.
The race leaders only lasted for about 50 kilometers from Bongabon to Lupao before the peloton smashed them.
Moments later, twenty cyclists, composed mostly of the Navy, Army, and Go For Gold riders, cropped up ahead with a difference of a minute and 40 seconds from the peloton who pursued the race leaders at a speed of 65 kph.
Subsequently, Team Ilocos Sur rider Erlanger Orcino, the solo chaser, persevered and hunted the breakaway while the peloton was already struggling alongside 7-Eleven top guns Rustom Lim and Marcelo Felipe, who both hail from Nueva Ecija, by about 4 minutes and 50 seconds in Binalonan, Pangasinan—98 kilometers from the zero mark.
After twenty-two kilometers, a new array of the breakaway was established.
At this juncture, 29-man breakaway, constituted the lead pack with eight Navy riders, seven Army riders, four Go For Gold, four Scratch It, two Bikextreme, one Celeste Cycles, one Team Nueva Ecija, one Tarlac Central Luzon, and one unidentified rider, were established, before blasting en route to Baguio City.
But, from 29 race leaders, it became 28 riders after Mark Julius Bordeos severed ties with the 28 riders, who were 29 seconds behind Bordeos, somewhere in Tuba Municipality in Benguet, dubbed the gateway to the City of Pines.
At 12:30 in the afternoon, BSA Cris Joven had bogged out and pulled out, while the twenty riders remained intact and finally outpaced BSA Bordeos moments later.
At the 25 km mark, the breakaway dwindled, eventually settling into a 10-man group comprised of PNSI riders Ronald Oranza, Ronald Lomotos, George Oconer, John Mark Camingao, Junrey Navara, El Joshua Cariño and Go For Gold youngsters, Ismael Grospe, Daniel Ven Cariño, Jonel Carcueva and BSA Marvin Tapic.
At this juncture, PNSI team captain Morales and PNSI rookie Lance Allen Benito were nowhere-to-be-found along with their great contenders 711 riders Rustom Lim and Marcelo Felipe in increasingly biting cold and drizzle in Benguet.
By the time the lead pack reached the tunnel, the Navy men already replenished themselves as PNSI Oranza had likewise served as domestique. Reportedly, the lead group broadened the lead’s gap by about 4 minutes.
Moments later, PNSI El Joshua Cariño and Go For Gold Ismael Grospe approached the KOM summit situated at the 162.6 km-mark—approximately 7.4 kms to the finish line in Burnham Park.
At the 1,429 masl KOM point, PNSI mountain climbing specialist El Joshua Cariño crossed the KOM first as his fellow PNSI all-rounder teammates Junrey Navara, John Mark Camingao, and the remaining riders in the lead pack trailed closely.
After Green Valley, they cranked by about 60 kph with three kilometers remaining with a threat of merging traffic.
At the final two kilometers, Junrey Navara started to attack while the rest followed suit.
Unexpectedly, the race turned out to be a bunch finish as Go For Gold Daniel Ven Cariño took the helm, followed by Bicycology SA Marvin Tapic and Go For Gold Jonel Carcueva and some riders in the lead pack as the raucous crowd cheered on.
The twenty-eight-year-old PNSI George Oconer defended his GC leadership in the race as well as PNSI Jan Paul Morales’ sprint leadership and PNSI El Joshua Cariño’s King of the Mountain, while G4G Daniel Ven Cariño recouped the U23 leadership from his teammate Ismael Grospe.
The red jersey wearer, George Luis Oconer, has a total clocking of 27 hours 34 minutes and 35 seconds ahead of his teammate PNSI Ronald Oranza by a minute and 15 seconds, as listed:
As of Stage 8, the Philippine Navy Standard Insurance has kept the lead, as listed:
Despite the growing dope issues hounding the Philippine Navy Standard Insurance these days, the team still managed to carry themselves to the finish line and maintain their respective titles.
Kudos to all riders!